People often blame their battery when the electrical system in their vehicle fails. At our Portland, OR Jim Fisher Volvo Cars Portland service department, they receive a shock when told their battery is fine, but the alternator needs repair or replacement. Here's how to tell.

How to Spot Alternator Problems

If any electrical component in your car fails to stay on or perform as it should, it's probably the alternator that's to blame, not the battery. The alternator generates electricity that recharges the car battery and keeps the car's electrical system powered while the engine runs. The alternator even powers the car when the car idles at a stoplight.

How the Alternator Works

The alternator contains a rotator, a spinning magnet. The magnet rotates inside of a stator. A set of coil windings spaced 120 degrees apart comprise the stator. The rotor spins by way of a moving serpentine belt connected to the engine crankshaft. As the magnetic rotor spins over the coil windings, it changes mechanical energy into alternating current (AC). This AC becomes direct current (DC) inside the alternator's rectifier, and the DC current then powers your car's electrical system.

Categories: Social, Service